PRESIDENT Lungu yesterday commissioned a US$4million fertiliser blending plant at the Lusaka South Multi-Facility Zone.
This is indeed good news as the plant will go a long way in boosting our agriculture sector.
The commissioning of the plant is also evidence that Government is resolute on turning agriculture into our economic mainstay through partnerships with the private sector and other stakeholders.
Government, under the able leadership of President Lungu, has put a premium on agriculture as a potential economic driver.
Government appreciates that Zambia sits on huge agricultural potential because of the vast arable land, abundant water and good climatic conditions the country is endowed with.
It is for this reason that Government has been working to boost agriculture through various projects as well as attracting foreign direct investment to the sector.
In Government’s diversification plan for agriculture, one of the focuses is to have value addition in the agricultural value chain.
We are happy that the establishment of the fertiliser blending plant by Export trading Group (ETG) is bringing on board value addition in the fertiliser production chain.
Initially, ETG’s investments were only in inputs distribution and commodity trading but are now moving to add value by blending D-Compound.
Due to political will exhibited by Government and good policies put in place, more and more people are now venturing into agriculture.
This has certainly increased demand for primary agricultural commodities such as fertiliser.
The establishment of the plant, which will be producing 350 tonnes of fertiliser per day, will help meet the growing demand.
The plant will also help farmers access fertiliser easily and on time.
We know that for many years we have been relying on imports which in most cases take long to be delivered due to various challenges.
But having more fertiliser produced locally will reduce on the delays experienced in the past.
ETG is well-positioned to deliver efficiency with 49 depots across the country and offers a one-stop solution by growing, manufacturing and delivering inputs.
With easy access to fertiliser, it is probable that more farmers will be encouraged to grow a variety of crops in line with Government’s crop diversification programme.
This will empower more farmers with an income and subsequently alleviate poverty at household level.
It is also expected that with more access to fertiliser, agricultural production will be boosted, to produce enough to ensure food security as well as meet the regional market demand.
It is also elating that apart from benefiting the farmers the new plant is also expected to create 1,000 jobs.
This is certainly a step towards bridging the unemployment gap, especially among the youth.
It is our hope that other private companies will emulate ETG by contributing towards achieving a diversified and export-oriented agriculture sector as laid down in our Seventh National Development Programme.
It is also hoped that with more players like ETG coming on board, the price of fertiliser and other primary agricultural products will go down, thereby making it easy for farmers, especially those in rural areas to access them.